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Southwark Council electoral register howler

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Thursday 6 March 2014 8.58pm
And I've also tweeted the whole request to Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council.
Thursday 6 March 2014 9.54pm
Tim, I'm interested to know whether you have actually received a different letter to me or whether you have just interpreted it in a very different way.

The letter I received doesn't say that the incorrect version of the edited register has been sold to anyone. Instead it only refers to what has happened to the full register containing incorrect information about who has opted out:

The full register is provided to a number of individuals and organisations, in accordance with the law. I can confirm that they have deleted the incorrect data, which had not been used, and replaced it with the correct information. Thus I'd like to reassure you that if you have opted out, your details are not held on record by any third parties as a result of this error.

Those individuals and organisations that receive the full register include the Court Service, Credit Reference Agencies, and the agents of political parties for use during elections. These individuals and organisations have to follow strict laws about how they use the full register and supplying it to a commercial organisation in breach of those laws would be very serious.

I agree that the letter from Southwark Council doesn't explicitly state that the incorrect version of the edited register was not sold to anyone, but presumably this is implicit in the statement that no third party has the information.

It's reasonable that you request clarification about this. However, unless the letter is deliberately misleading or you've actually received a different letter, there doesn't seen to be any reason to think that an incorrect version of the edited register has been sold to any organisation.
Thursday 6 March 2014 10.20pm
Having said all that, if Southwark have actually been selling an incorrect version of the edited register it would explain how the Ministry of Sound got my name and address as per this question I asked on this forum three years ago:
Friday 7 March 2014 6.52am
James - the point is that it should never happened in the first place and it looks like a breach of the Data Protection Act which the letter didn't point out. What also worried me was that particular paragraph - there was obviously a delay in between the Council sending the information out and then realising there was a problem with it. And then how are they going to ensure that the information that was sent out has been "corrected" as they say - they've got no way of telling what happened to it once it was sent out. Hence the request for more information as I don't trust the accuracy of what is in the letter particularly as it misses some important information out.
Friday 7 March 2014 8.09am
You keep mentioning the DPA. Any breach under that Act is secondary to the breach/offence under the statutory instrument I earlier referred you to. That is even if there is a breach of the DPA; i know not.

It's worth remembering that even the full, unedited register is[i][/i] still a public document and is available for inspection by anybody who wants to see it. Anyone can attend the council and inspect the full register - but under supervision. In reality, this is usually in the library where the librarian or staff are nearby. You're allowed to take notes of anything they want, including names and addresses of whomsoever you wish. as such, the wrong Southwark has committed, in my opinion, is selling/disclosing the list as a whole, contrary to the Rep of People Regs I referred to before.

The fact is that, now it had come to light, you can be reassured as Southwark will doubtless have told the companies to which it supplied the register that it had done so in error. Regardless of that, a company, regardless of how it got it, commits a criminal offence if it uses the full, unedited register for purposes other than those allowed in the Regulations.
Friday 7 March 2014 8.52am
Just thought I'd check: my full name and address are readily available online from - based, it says, on the electoral roll 2002-6 - which was presumably the point when I opted out of the edited version of the register.

Frankly I would have thought if anyone wants your address these days they can find it, and the amount of unsolicited mail I get from people trying to sell me things (and since it includes age-related insurance and health care, they obviously know my age as well) suggests the current electoral register is not the only source of mailing lists.

Actually, Googling my name and postcode, I found one website that has my full address, home phone number and personal e-mail, as well as my (former) job-title and work place! It doesn't give my SE1 nom-de-plume, however.

John C
Friday 7 March 2014 12.17pm
Well it's progressing - I've had a note saying that they will respond in 40 days (actually the Freedom of Information Act gives them 21 I think) providing I supply proof of ID - citing somewhat amusingly - the Data Protection Act. More when I get it...
Monday 10 March 2014 7.21pm
I had that letter too. I noticed from this year's electorial confirmation, that they had opted me in! so queried that and got told it had been a mistake. My take on this, is that it's not the first time (same boat as James, in that externals have gotten hold of my private details) and that the council have indeed sold the full versions onwards again.
DPA covers this as a breach, as the details are being processed in a way that conflicts with what was agreed when the information was obtained. A clear breach.
I shall also be following with some dpa, ICO and foi requests.
Not happy.
Monday 10 March 2014 11.05pm
I think this has also happened to me. I received the annual canvass form in February and it showed as if I hadn't opted out of the edited register (which I had since I first registered).

Sending a letter to the Electoral Registration Officer tomorrow to clarify.
Tuesday 11 March 2014 8.38am
Meanwhile BBC News` Alan Urry writes an interesting piece...
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